The story behind how Crying Jordan Meme came to be, and why it’ll never go away
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Pretty cool little background on how the original Crying Jordan picture came to be. It’s easy, at least for me, to just assume that video can capture the pictures we see plastered all over the internet. But when you really get down to it, the work these photographers do to catch specific moments in time — moments like Michael Jordan at the exact moment his face looks like that — is pretty remarkable. It seems easy, and it seems random, but you have to be on your shit at all times to capture a moment like that… to click that button at juuuuust the right millisecond and capture something magical. Sure, not every picture goes on to become the biggest cultural phenomenon in the world a full five years after you took it. But still, at least personally, I think it’s an under-appreciated craft.
Anyway, before I get to Jay Williams and the “replaceability of Crying Jordan”, I wanna just give a quick shoutout to the wet blanket from The Sports Pickle. I can’t totally tell if he’s just trolling, or if he’s actually seriously this mad about the Crying Jordan Meme, but it takes some set of balls to go on video and claim there’s no originality with Crying Jordan Memes when you run The Sports Pickle…
Now, as for Jay Williams…
I don’t know how else to start other than by saying… predicting that Floyd Mayweather getting KO’d would be the thing to replace Crying Jordan is one of the most outrageous takes I’ve ever heard. Set aside that Floyd is never getting knocked out. That’s just never happening. But let’s look into why…
To start… Michael Jordan is, and forever will be, the most famous athlete of all time. You can’t top Crying Jordan because there will never be an athlete more famous than Jordan. Not Crying Lebron. Not Crying Kobe. Not Crying Brady. Not Crying Jeter. Not Crying Curry or Cam or Bryce or Speith or whoever. None of those guys are or will ever be as well know as Michael Jordan.
No athlete will ever occupy or dominate as much of the cultural landscape, from an eyeballs perspective, as Michael Jordan did in his prime. He dominated a larger fraction of the pie than anyone will ever be able to for the rest of time.
It’s like how no show will be more watched than the finale of M*A*S*H*, or no band will be as popular as the Beetles. The market is too big now, the competition is too vast. Steph Curry is at the absolute heigh of the sports world right now, and he doesn’t even hold a fraction of the grip that Jordan held on the sports world, the pop culture world, the entire American culture in the nineties and continuing into today. It’s not Curry’s fault, it’s just impossible. Everyone recognizes Michael Jordan, whether it’s from basketball, shoe sales, movies, commercials, advertisements, or yes, even this specific meme. There’s no other athlete that recognizable.
Which leads me to my second point… Whatever space Jordan occupies in our heads as “the basketball player”, or “the advertiser”, or “The sneaker guy”… whatever he is to us… he’s considered the guy in that field. He’s the greatest. When you see or hear Jordan you think, “Greatest basketball player of all time” or “Greatest advertiser in sports history” or “Greatest sneaker salesman ever” or “Greatest whatever”.
And that has carried over into this meme. Because the people who were too young to appreciate Jordan the Basketball player, Jordan the advertiser, Jordan the degenerate gambler who got suspended by David Stern, Jordan the star of Space Jam, Jordan the champion… those kids are on the internet now.
Which brings me to my third point… this is the first universal meme. Any young kid who didn’t know Jordan before, knows him now. They just know him as the first, the greatest, the most dominant meme on the internet. Think about it… what “thing” on the internet was ever this big before Crying MJ? What is more recognizable to the general internet audience today, right now, that Michael Jordan’s crying face? Nothing. Even if you don’t know him as a basketball player, you know him as the most famous meme. The greatest meme.
The point of all this is… nothing will ever mean as much as Jordan. To half the internet he’s the greatest athlete ever, to the other half he’s the greatest meme ever. It’s not just that some guy is crying with one of the saddest cry faces ever, it’s that THE most dominant force in sports/sneaker sales/sports advertising/internet culture history is crying the saddest cry face ever. The greatest winner ever is crying the saddest face ever.
Once you’ve used that as “the face of losing”, nobody else’s face will ever feel as important. Everything else is a downgrade. “Crying Kobe” on the loser of the Finals? Not as important. “Crying Brady” on the loser of the Super Bowl? Not as important. “Knocked Out Floyd” on a random baseball players face after an error in the postseason? How could that EVER be more significant than Crying Jordan? Jordan is the Greatest Ever, in everything he’s ever been a part of. Floyd is a boxer who’s matches were so boring we don’t even give him credit for being undefeated.
So no, Jay Williams, KO’d Floyd isn’t going to replace Crying Jordan. Neither is “Odor punching Bautista”, or “Crying Kobe” when he closes his Hall Of Fame Speech by copying Jordan again. Crying Jordan might fade over time, but it’ll never be replaced. Twenty years from now, putting Crying Jordan on a losing team’s face will still mean something. That same way that Jordan himself is still the most important figure in basketball. It might be “retired” by then, but nothing will ever mean as much as putting the crying face of the Greatest Ever on the face of every losing team in sports history.
P.S. Wet Blanket Sports Pickle guy thinking that someone won’t put Crying Jordan on Jordan’s casket is the most naive thing I’ve ever heard. Hey guy, the internet has absolutely no chill. And if you think some kid won’t denigrate Jordan’s casket you’re as delusional as you look.
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